Kapa haka winners 'blessed'
Members of two Waikato kapa haka groups are home from Te Matatini 2013 in Rotorua to the admiration of whanau and friends, and carrying a swag of trophies under their arms.
Standout team, Te Iti Kahurangi, received a powhiri at Rukumoana Marae from the children of Ngati Haua School and around 50 hapu members near Morrinsville.
The group won five trophies, including a korowai for the coveted Te Manukura Wahine (best female leader). The others were for language excellence, best entrance, best traditional chant, and best action song.
"It is a blessing when we set out as a team to go on this journey and I supposed it was never in the picture," female leader Tiare Kata Teinakore said. "It was just a big bonus and I just feel privileged."
Ms Teinakore now ranks among the pre-eminent female leaders in kapa haka and is honoured to sit alongside legends such as the late Taini Morrison.
"My strength came from the team. My strength came from my iwi, my hapu. My strength came from my kids [and] just all of the sacrifices that all of the members have made over the last six to nine months."
It is the first time Te Iti Kahurangi has made it through the preliminary stages and it wowed the crowd of 15,000 with one of the most memorable performances of the day.
"We all try to help out where possible but, in terms of where the ideas come from, divine intervention, e hoa, divine intervention," male leader Kingi Kiriona said.
Te Iti Kahurangi will celebrate their 10th year as a 40-a-side group next year and, with a number of members and composers still in their 20s and 30s, they appear to have a long and successful future ahead of them.
"Never give up," he said. "It sounds really cliche but it's true. Never give up."
Te Pou O Mangatawhiri won best original composition trophies for its haka and action song and placed third in the poi.
Waikato was also represented by a third qualifying group, Huntly's Nga Pou o Roto.